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If, however, a paralegal feels uncomfortable continuing to work on a matter with which a conflict was not determined, it should be discussed with the supervising attorney or a conflicts committee within the firm or employer's structure.Examples of when a paralegal may have a conflict of interest in a legal matter: Changing jobs: if a paralegal works at one law firm that is handling a legal matter on behalf of a client and then goes to work for another law firm that is handling the same legal matter on behalf of the adversary; Family and personal relationships: if a paralegal is related to or close friends with a party, a client, or someone involved in the legal matter; Business interests and professional relationships outside the employment: if a paralegal is involved either within a legal profession organization or in another business entity.In practice areas where paralegals are not supervised by or accountable to an attorney but deal directly with the clients, paralegals make those decisions.Paralegals should abide by the decision made by the attorney.HOW TO IDENTIFY A POSSIBLE CONFLICT OF INTEREST ** On your first day of employment (if it has not been done during the interview process), ask the supervising attorney or other appropriate person for a list of legal cases or matters that the firm or employer is handling.
For paralegals who are supervised by or accountable to an attorney, the attorney is obligated to determine whether there is conflict of interest between the paralegal and the client or legal matter.
** Maintain your list of matters on which you work throughout your paralegal career. An ethical wall (or Chinese wall, as it used to be called) is an imaginary boundary placed around an individual or individuals with whom a conflict of interest is discovered.
This imaginary boundary is supposed to bar any communications, written or verbal, between the members of the legal team handling a matter and the person with whom the conflict of interest exists.
If they have a conflict of interest involving too many clients, no employer would want to hire them because the law firm or other employer would be disqualified from handling those cases.
In essence, they may be precluded from finding work because of the vast amount of legal matters to which they were exposed.